How did you react to the masked figure's first appearance in "The Masque of the Red Death"?

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The entrance of the masked figure, when taken in context with the rest of the setting of this terrifying short story and the way that Poe uses symbolism in the setting to suggest the inevitability of death, is one of pure terror. His appearance - extreme even for the masqued ball - shows his symbolic function of representing death and the message that, no matter how hard we try, we cannot lock ourselves up to protect ourselves from death.

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I agree that Poe's intent to frighten his readers is usually successful.  In the case of "The Masque of the Red Death," the masked figure's entrance is one that is terrifying, but not necessarily surprising.  (After all, why would Prospero create such a morbid seventh room in his fortification?)

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There is no question that with the entrance of the Red Death Poe achieved what he defined as the singleness of purpose of a short story.  As readers, we, too, are steadily led room by gothic room to the horrendous climax.  Frightening, indeed. 

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My initial response to the entrance of the villainous masked figure was one of pure fright. Poe frightened me so deeply with this story that I swore off Poe for life! I only go back to Poe under duress (course work) or when some higher aim beckons, like answering a student's question!

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I first read “The Masque of the Red Death” in high school English. It made such an impression on me that it became one of my favorite short stories and one of my “go to” assignments when I became a high school English teacher myself. The entrance of the Red Death into the masked ball ranks as one of the most horrifying scenes ever described in literature. It sent shivers across my arms the first time I read it and still does every time I read it again. I have never had a student complain to me “This is boring!” when I have used this text in a classroom.

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The author achieved an intense sense of foreshadowing as the masked figured entered the story by creating a gothic atmosphere of darkness and mystery. With it, the reader can almost see right in front of his eyes the figure himself and can almost predict the outcome of the story.  In my case, I immediately imagined that the guest represented the presence of something evil...bad news, so to speak. It is through this sense that one can identify with the rest of the characters and with the main idea of the story: You can run but you cannot hide.

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